Wildlife TV Presenter
Steve Backshall is a BAFTA-winning English naturalist, writer and television presenter, best known for BBC TV's Deadly 60. His other BBC work includes being part of the expedition teams in Lost Land of the Tiger, Lost Land of the Volcano and Lost Land of the Jaguar. He has worked for the National Geographic Channel and the Discovery Channel, has published three novels for children and several non-fiction works.
An all-round action man and larger-than-life individual, Steve has been a powerful voice for sharks and rays for many years, particularly in changing people’s mindsets behind their unfortunate reputation, and raising awareness of the fisheries threatening them with extinction.
Conservationist, Cinematographer & Shark Ambassador
Valerie Taylor is a renowned conservationist, shark expert, and iconic cinematographer and competitive spearfisher. Together with her late husband, Ron Taylor, the pair helped open the world’s eyes to the wonders of marine life, particularly sharks. They were the first people to film great white sharks without the protection of a cage. They’ve created and helped produce various films and TV series over the years, including Shark Hunter, the American feature film, Blue Water, White Death, and assisting Steven Spielberg to work on Jaws.
Roger Munns is an Emmy and BAFTA award-winning cameraman. He was one of the principal cameramen on Blue Planet II and has worked extensively on other landmark BBC natural history productions such as Life, Life Story and Life in Cold Blood.
Roger has been a friend and vocal supporter of the Manta Trust for many years, even before becoming an official patron.
Founder of Girls that Scuba
Sarah Richard is the founder of Girls that Scuba - now the largest female dive community. A full-time digital nomad, Divemaster and travel blogger, Sarah started Girls that Scuba to connect women who have a passion for the ocean and diving with each other and just three years later Girls that Scuba has over 500,000 members from around the globe. Girls that Scuba share stories of female empowerment, plastic education and ocean restoration as well as encouraging and inspiring more people to start scuba diving. Click the link below to find out more about Girls that Scuba, including their female only dive trips and plastic and waste free online store.
Sarah is dedicated to supporting vital marine conservation, including the work of the Manta Trust. We are delighted to welcome her to the Manta Team and look forward to many exciting future collaborations!
Polar & Underwater Cameraman / Photographer
Doug Allan is a Scottish wildlife and documentary cameraman and award-winning photographer. As the recipient of the Fuchs Medal and the Polar Medal (twice), no other cameramen is as experienced filming in polar regions as Doug – whether on the ice or diving under it. He has won countless awards for his photography, on programmes including The Blue Planet, Planet Earth, Life, Human Planet and Frozen Planet.
Like all of our longest-standing patrons, Doug has championed the Manta Trust and its work for many years, and we’re fortunate to have him as a patron and conservation ally.
PADI Course Director & Marine Conservationist
Zoona Naseem was one of the first female Maldivians to qualify as a PADI Scuba Instructor in 1996 and went on to become the Maldives’ first woman to obtain the rank of PADI Course Director (which represents just 1% of the diving industry). Having worked for over 24 years as a PADI professional in a number of resorts and dive centres teaching a huge number of local Maldivians to dive, Zoona went on to open her own dive centre and PADI 5 star Instructor Development facility called Moodhu Bulhaa.
Zoona is a diving icon in the Maldives and is much respected for breaking gender barriers as well as being a strong advocate for marine conservation and encouraging the next generation to take the plunge. Her work has been recognised by numerous national and international awards, most recently the Local Hero Award at the Oceans Awards 2019.
Zoona aims to convince Maldivian parents that the ocean is a safe place and to encourage them to allow their children to enjoy it. For her, in a country like the Maldives, the oceans should be their playground, and their children should be swimming before they walk.